Possessing a soft outside jump shot and perhaps as many as 15 excess pounds, Kevin Jones yesterday started on the road he hopes will lead to a professional basketball club.
Jones was among 60 players who paid $95 each to participate in a five-day free-agent camp that began Wednesday at the Bullis school. The camp, sponsored by Pro Basketball Clinics Inc. and Pro-Am East, offers players the possibility of being scouted by the National Basketball Assocation, European and Continental league, and the Far East and South American federations.
The gray, dingy walls of the Bullis gymnasium are light years from the NBA, and Jones, who was a forward at Oklahoma Christian, knew it.
He knew there was only one NBA scout watching yesterday and the Bullets' Bill Gardiner was looking, not scouting.
Gardiner spoke to the players yesterday at the request of Chuck Bollweg, vice president of Pro Basketball Clinics Inc. "I just thought I'd take a look while I was here, but we sure don't have any room on our team," Gardiner said.
And after Wednesday's collegiate draft, it is doubtful openings exist on any other NBA squad.
"It would be advantageous to the kids if this camp was held before the draft," Gardiner said. "That way I might get a name for the eighth, ninth, or 10th round."
Not being selected in the 1978 draft was a major disappointment for the 23-year-old Jones, who averaged almost 19 points and 10 rebounds per game at Oklahoma Christian.
The 6-foot-7 player spent most of yesterday battling former George Washington starter Tom Glenn. "I had a chance after college to play in the European league and I opted not to go. Now, I wish I'd gone," said Jones.
"I haven't played ball for a year and I really miss it, I want to play and I'll go anywhere.
According to Gardiner, Jones may be fortunate enough to hook up with a Continental or European league team if he receives enough exposure.
Exposure is what most of the better players sought from the camp. "I came out here to keep in shape and hopefully be seen," said Glenn, who was not drafted by the NBA after four starting seasons with the Colonials. "I've already had offers from three South American teams and I've talked with a few European teams, but I'm pretty bitter that I didn't get drafted."
Jones, however, has had contact with a pro club. San Antonio Spur Coach Stan Albeck suggested Jones attend the camp.
"I've been out for one year and need to get my foot in the front door again," Jones said. "All I'm looking for is to get some exposure."
Bollweg said more scouts would be on hand Saturday and Sunday for the camp's "showcase tourament," featuring its best players. He said the interppreter for Spanish Coach Jose Figueroa had contacted him and that Figueroa would arrive for the tourney.
"He told me he's looking for a big man," Bollweg said. "We don't make any promises. Look, a lot of kids from the area pay $95 just so if a guy gets drafted they can tell their girl friends, 'I played against that guy and boy did I put a move on him.'"
While sitting in the stands observing the players, most of whom who were either too slow, too short or not even close for pro franchises, Gardiner tried to explain what motivated them.
"These kids know this is what they want to do for a living. Is the camp worth it? It's worth it if they get anything out of it, even if that is just the feeling that they know they have done everything possible in trying to get a job in basketball."